Adrian Ball is Chief Executive at the Diocese of Ely Multi Academy Trust, which is made up of 39 primary schools across Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Bedfordshire. We are delighted to be welcoming Adrian, as an experienced senior leader in education and more specifically the MAT space, as chair for our inaugural Multi Academy Trust Partnership Network, taking pace from the 25th-26th February at Horwood House Hotel in Milton Keynes.
Ahead of the event, we spoke to Adrian about what interested him about the event and what he wants delegates to experience at Multi Academy Trust Partnership Network.
Multi Academy Trust Partnership Network is obviously a brand new event, but what attracted you to attend, and to chair the event?
The opportunity to attend a MAT specific event. I’ve not attended an event of this scale previously which caters specifically for MAT senior leaders – it’s always a part of a wider, non-specific education event. The sector is becoming increasingly fragmented, so it’s essential for us to have this extended time in a safe environment to discuss and work together towards continued improvement. Through events like this, we can greatly improve our networks and meet new collaborators to help us transform and improve. Ultimately, it’s all about improving the outcomes for the students in our care – that’s what it comes back to.
What are some of the biggest challenges currently facing multi academy trusts?
Fragmentation and the impact of so many different pressures on organisations and our services. In many cases, the level of service from Local Authorities is diminishing, so MATs have to step in and fill that gap, increasing the services we provide. Obviously with this comes a lot of financial pressure – so the traditional methods we may have fallen back on before are no longer viable. We need to find alternative ways of distributing budget and improving our services – which is why this event is a great opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes, as well as their triumphs.
What specific areas do you hope to see addressed at the event?
I’m interested to hear from larger trusts about how they manage and sustain school improvement. We’re welcoming senior leaders from a wide range of organisations – whether that’s smaller trusts hoping to grow, or the larger trusts who are geographically diverse. I’m interested to hear how these organisations overcome their specific challenges to improve, whether they’re using a hub model or moving more towards centralisation. Bringing it back to outcomes – I want to see lively discussion and debate about how we can improve the life chances and opportunities for young people.
Is there anything in particular you are hoping to see or looking forward to seeing from suppliers?
Tech tends to move a lot faster in the outside world than it does in schools, so it’ll be great to get an overview of the latest solutions. I’ll be interested in systems that can reduce ever-present administrative burden, and that are truly scalable – that can grow with the Trust as it grows. Ultimately, I think we’re looking for technology to make our lives easier!